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I Met My First Deaf Friend in UST

February 1, 2011

I don’t know where is now, but I met my first Deaf friend in UST. His name is Daniel Pantig. He was my classmate and the one who taught me fingerspelling or how to sign ABCs for the Deaf. We became close  because I was one of his few classmates who really spent time to learn fingerspelling to be able to communicate with him. The reason why it didn’t take me much time to learn it as part of communicating with the Deaf when I formally studied sign language at DLS-CSB School for Deaf and Allied Studies as part of my research for “Silent Odyssey,” my docu on Deaf Filipinos. Oh well, now that I think about it, UST should be lauded for having accepted my Deaf friend even without the “mainstreaming and inclusion” dictums in the current educational system wherein schools are all obliged to provide “Education For All.” I think that is one thing UST should brag about. They welcomed the Deaf even if sped education wasn’t yet in vogue because that must be about three decades ago… UP has only recently accepted Deaf students in tertiary levels. Some Deaf and Hard of Hearing friends are enrolled as M.A. students in Psychology. At the UP College of Fine Arts, my FSL teacher, Rommel Agravante joined last year as a scholar.

UST is 400 years old, and having thought of Daniel, I can’t help but be nostalgic of the four years that I spent there as Fine Arts student. And although I continued to study [Humanities], worked, be connected with the UP Film Center even lived in the campus [J.P.Laurel St.] for nearly 20 years, my years at UST continue to live on in my memory. Especially so, when I read Rina Jimenez-David’s article on UST when she wrote : “I remember visiting my then-boyfriend at the College of Fine Arts and experiencing a culture shock: everywhere was chaos, with art materials scattered in all corners, and students in paint-spattered jeans, long unkempt hair and vivid torn T-shirts.” [A Reluctant Thomasian]. There was disarray it’s true but we were used to them as we looked beyond and created order on our canvases. I can also confirm the amusing fact that male and female students took different stairways. There was segregation but not when students were in classrooms. Co-ed everywhere except sa stairs…

Anyway, at Atelier H, the room designated for Painting Majors — [I myself can’t seem to take now that I was a Painting Major because admittedly I can’t paint a thing except perhaps the doors of the house. Ha!Ha!…maddeningly true!!! A waste of time?? In a way, because I have not practiced and lost all the confidence in painting that I used to have. But the principles and theories are still applicable when I frame my shots to make my films. Besides, I had good professors: Angelito Antonio, Antonio Austria, etc.] — anyway, to continue with my recollection: — Once I was in serious “tantrums” or in “bad mood” that I remember expressing it by throwing paints on my canvas and kicking it because I couldn’t quite achieve what I wanted to paint. I finished it anyway nang mahimas-himasan in time for class submission. And would you believe? I got an Honorable Mention Award in an Art Association of the Philippines competition! With personal congratulatory note from no less than Mr. Victorio Edades being the former Fine Arts Director then. But the most laughable part was that it was judged and displayed in inverted manner. I came to know that when I went to attend the exhibition… the saddest thing though was the discouraging remark from my mother who said: “Maski singko [5 centavos], hindi ko bibilhin yan!”  She was so violently against my impressionistic, at times abstract, Delaunay and El Greco-influenced work in Composition subject under Angelito Antonio. I was depressed. But what could you expect from them who wanted me to take up Library Science like my brother???

Funny too to remember how Fr. Rodriguez, our fat Spanish Rector, reminiscent of Fr. Damaso, used to run after students in mini skirts. His problem was that FA rooms were partitioned only by dividers where one can  just bend or stoop to get to the other room. He couldn’t. And as he fumed with anger, we were giggling inside the CR, the safest place to hide. I also remember Mr. Diosdado Lorenzo —  his last year when I was there — shouting out loud his evaluation of student’s work that could be heard even if you were three rooms away from him: “Poor color, poor rendering — 50!!!” At least I got 84%…Hmmm!!! And, there was also an incident when students were running in chaos after the newly assigned Dean Concio — whom they disliked…and other scenes like molotovs dropping near our building…and students scampering away.

From painting to making films on Special People, isn’t that unthinkable?? I never thought I would end up doing what I am doing now. That’s how Fate or Destiny work I guess. Nevertheless, I definitely use art principles and theories when I make films. So, the artist in me never really died. There remains a wishful thought that one day — one day, I’ll be back to dabble with oil paints and the like again. I miss the smell of turpentine, Grumbacher paints, ubok, linseed oil, and the texture of a canvas, and a sable brush…

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